INTERVIEW WITH A SENIOR POLITICAL ACTIVIST

CALL FOR LEVEL-PLAYING FIELD FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

KANWAL SALEEM
Aug 17 - 23, 2009

Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz is a leading social and political activist. She is highly regarded in political and social circles due to her kind-hearted approach and social welfare activities.

She is proprietor of Fashion Boutique 'Blossoms'. She is also Director, Akram Cotton Mills Limited (formerly Akram Industries Limited) and Cotton Spinning Unit with Captive Power Generation.

She remained actively involved with Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) organization to raise the voice of have-nots at relevant forums.

Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz is President of NGO, SERVE, working with community participation in two government high schools under complete adoption scheme of the Government of Punjab.

She is also ex-project Director, South Asia Partnership Programme on Community Development under joint supervision of Home Economics Associations of Pakistan, Canada, and Nepal.

She is member Board of Governors Punjab Education Foundation, Government of Punjab. She is Senior Vice President Women's Wing (Punjab) Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Ex-President, Home Economics College Old Students Association, Lahore.

She is also former member of Social Service Center for lost and kidnapped children "Negehban". She attended various conferences abroad apart from extensively traveling throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Burma, Philippines, Turkey, Dubai, India, Hong Kong, and USA.

In an interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist, she shared her views on the issues confronted to Pakistan as well as women entrepreneurs. "We need to fulfill our responsibilities and take care of have-nots so that such a system could be put in place that could ensure bright and secure future of coming generations," she said.

According to Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz, no country could achieve its goals without active participation of women in all sectors but despite being a major portion of population, Pakistani women do not have the same facilities as men have. She said that government should provide level playing field to the women entrepreneurs.

She said that women entrepreneurs should have representation at all forums so that their problems could be solved in a well manner. She said that government should ensure to circulate all trade related information amongst the women entrepreneurs. She urged upon the government to organize workshops and seminars for women entrepreneurs to create awareness regarding global scenario. She said that long-term policies should be formed for women entrepreneurs and implementation of these policies should also be ensured.

Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz further said that government should encourage the educated women to take part in the conventional business activities and facilitate them to set their own businesses as women not only have the abilities to become successful businesspersons but could also give boost to the economic activities in the country.

Furthermore, she said that more than 72% women are attached with agriculture sector while participation of women in all other sectors is saddened. She said that the vast majority of poor women were serving as maidservants and earning very little amount to buy some food for their families. She said that government should pay attention towards these uneducated and unskilled women therefore.

Quoting a report of United Nations, she said it divulges that literacy rate in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA is 99.9%. Likewise, literacy rate in India is 61%, in Iran 80%, in China 90.9%, in Malaysia 88.7%, in Sri Lanka 90.4% in Singapore 92.5%, and in Thailand 92.6%, while in our country current literacy rate is just 54.2%. "I would like to mention here that those Pakistanis are also known as "literate" who could only read or write their name. If these people would be debarred from the list of literate people then you can well imagine the literacy rate statistics," she said.

"Women make around half of the population in Pakistan and could play an important role to put the country on path of economic development but government has to evolve appropriate policies for them, particularly for women entrepreneurs," she said.

Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz further said that women should not be categorized on gender basis. She further said that government should encourage the educated women to take part in the conventional business activities and facilitate them to set their own businesses. She said federal government should focus on the education of females as women illiteracy rate showing dismal picture. She said that government should establish schools for girls in their towns that would encourage them to go for education. She said that enhanced literacy rate in women would help them to utilize their abilities for prosperity of the country.

Talking about energy crisis in the country, she strongly criticised the Ministry of Water & Power on its failure to vanquish the huge energy crisis and urged upon the government to work on war basis to enhance the power generation.

She said worse electricity shortage has hit the industrial production very hard. She said textile sector could not meet its export target that would hit the overall exports as textile sector has more than 60% share in country's export, 27% in industrial value addition, and 38% in sector employment. She said despite more than 8 hours load shedding in urban and more than 18 hours load shedding in rural areas, PEPCO is sending huge electricity bills to the masses while power tariff would be increased from July. She said industrial sector was already passing through a very critical period. Power shortage has destroyed the industrial base, a large number of industrial units have been closed down and thousands industrial worker became jobless and compelled for starvation but despite enhancing the cheap electricity production, government has planned to increase the power tariff.

She said that China could transfer most recent technology to Pakistan for electricity generation while Iran is also ready to provide cheap electricity, government should not waste more time and initiate negotiations with China and Iran. She said building headwork and installing power generation plants of 20 to 30 MW on Pakistan's best irrigation system could also generate cheap electricity.